Time to hang up the boots

On November 15, 2013, the first The Stute Smackdown debuted. The title of the column was “Something you don’t outgrow,” and that was referring to professional wrestling, one of the greater passions of the column’s author (me). In that column, I explained how wrestling was, and I quote myself from that edition, “an enigma,” how professional wrestling is more than soap operatic, fake fighting. Housed under the modern-day umbrella term “sports entertainment,” professional wrestling seems easily categorized, but it’s something that’s almost impossible to define because of the immense subjectivity it fosters. This particular column does not have a specific aim in mind, although I know (as I contradict myself writing the following) I want to return to my first column, talking a bit about what professional wrestling means to me, my experiences writing this weekly column, and what the future holds for both professional wrestling and me.

It took me awhile to find a niché with this column. At first, I discussed behind-the-scenes aspect of the professional wrestling, focusing almost exclusively on WWE. Then, I moved on to reviewing shows, a period in the column’s short existence that didn’t fit a newspaper column. I tried to be a website that reviewed the WWE brand of professional wrestling in-depth for an audience knowledgeable on the topic. In some ways, I grew tired of having to explain everything to my audience, and began constructing my review columns in such a way that forced readers to either watch the product or skip to another news piece. You can imagine which option was more popular. As I wound down to my final columns, including this one, I reverted back to my original writing style, addressing specific topics in the industry and explaining them. I am, of course, biased, but I can confidently say that the my latter columns were the best so far in The Stute Smackdown’s history.

I found that I was at my best when I was most passionate, and that passion was derived not from producing esoteric columns reviewing WWE shows in unnecessary detail, but in explaining the professional industry to those who don’t know it. I don’t always realize it when I’m doing it, but when I explain some aspect of professional wrestling to a “lay person,” my face lights up, and time stops: I can talk for as long as I possibly can, and I enjoy it. Again, while it’s not always evident amid my discussion, arguing with those who dislike or intentionally attack professional wrestling releases the same “passion endorphins” as an explanation to someone who never knew or once loved the industry. When I walk to and from school, work, or anywhere else, I put in my headphones and listen to the Steve Austin Show, and the interviews that the great “Stone Cold” Steve Austin has with the legends of the professional wrestling industry (not just WWE). Hearing Austin talk to those who have lived through decades of professional wrestling, from a time where no one knew it was a collaborative production to the present-day reality where everyone is aware of the ins and outs of the industry, produces the same earnest passion that explaining or arguing about professional wrestling does. Finally, when The Ultimate Warrior died on April 8, 2014, and I watched his documentary on the WWE Network, “Warrior: The Ultimate Legend,” again, I was elated to be experiencing every bit of the documentary, even at the times I was on the verge of crying.

When I was younger, my dream was to become a professional wrestler. My friends and I would have countless matches, influenced by the “Attitude Era” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Jumping off tables, hitting each other with plastic championship belts — there was an unbridled passion at the age for the business, when it was real. Today, I think that passion has increased, believe it or not, and my goals haven’t changed much either. Although I recognize my athletic ability (or lack thereof) as one of many roadblocks in the way of me ever entering the industry as a performer, I still want to be in the industry. As a graphic designer, documentary producer, website manager, writer, reporter, or almost anything else, my dream is to, like many other aspiring professional wrestlers, become involved in the industry I have so much passion for and eventually make it to the “big show,” WWE. I was hitting my friends with plastic belts at the age of seven. As you can see in my picture for this week’s column, I am donning the face paint of The Ultimate Warrior (courtesy of Shara Nguyen) at the age of 20. As I said in my first column, professional wrestling is something that I won’t outgrow; and as I say in my final column ever, it’s time to hang up the boots and move on, letting others take this column’s slot to express their passions, enjoying as much as I have.

For your weekly dose of professional wrestling, stay tuned to my personal endeavors if you’re interested. Until then, in the censored words of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, “I’ll catch you down the road.”